The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2011

Theater Experiences

Inspired by comments in another post, it feels like 4th of July is a good time to share stories about the experience of going to the movies.

I have lots of stories, but I always think of going to one of the last shows at the State & Lake in Chicago and seeing Gremlins with my 2 pre-teen nephews, who had not experienced the “urban moviegoing experience” before. No one had told them, they could talk to the movie before this, so they spent most of the show watching the audience instead of the movie.

Or my first R-rated movie, “Pete & Tillie,” which featured semi-nudity by Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett. My dad kept taking me to the candy counter when he thought a sex scene was about to start. And invariably, it wouldnt actually happen until he’d walked me back into the theater… at which point I got eye muffs.

These were the same two boys that I showed Reservior Dogs at 10 & 13… Not very good judgment there… But that’s a DVD story….

What memories do you have?


Ideas First

Roger Ebert wrote a piece called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, about the right to die, Jack Kevorkian, and the HBO movie, “You Don’t Know Jack.” Steven Drake attacked Roger for making assumptions in the piece.

Thing is, as a very focused, long-involved activist on this issue, Drake has more facts in his head about it than Ebert. And Roger may have overreached or been sloppy on a couple of things. Conversely, Drake’s facts may lean to spin at times.

But what both men have, which cannot be fact-checked away, is a strong opinion.

Ebert could acknowledge, if it’s true, that every fact Drake claims he had wrong was wrong… and yet, I don’t imagine that Roger would find the arguments of detail ones that would change his feeling about people being free to control their own physical destinies over the state or doctors or any outside force (assuming faith if an inside source).

Likewise, I don’t imagine that a perfectly fact-checked article from Ebert on his position would ever elicit agreement from Drake, whose mind seems clearly made up.

Of course, Drake is a bit abusive about all this and Roger was simply expressing his own opinion and experience. But let that pass…

Don’t we have to find a way to talk about the real ideas that separate us and not just the typos or real, but irrelevant, factual errors, if we want to progress as a civilization?

It’s much harder, but so much more fulfilling.

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Delivelution 63011

So… a blogger smartly took a look at DirecTV and Home Premiere showings a couple of months after the program launched… and found that there were none of these $30 a pop, 60 day after opening, VOD films available as we head into the holiday weekend.

However, DirecTV is offering discounting on multiple VOD purchases at the $5 price point.

We’re a couple of weeks from Bridesmaids hitting 60 days. Will Universal offer it up for Home Premium?

No one will be too surprised that this failed. The question is, how will the studios that were so comfortable telling exhibitors to shut up and do as they were told respond to the failure… Withdraw or Double Down with a shorter window and/or lower pricing?


The Little Things

The folks at the Apple Store have been pleasant and helpful and generous about my loosely held rage about the 9 day, 6-roundtrip repair of my 27″ desktop that started with a simple broken DVD drive. I thank them and I am ready to have my computer back, thanks.

No one is dead or even ill. I have not been unable to communicate on the blog, though admittedly, every part of it is harder (except the license to write less that I have afforded myself in light of the hardship.).

But man… after the first couple of novel days trying to create systems to push content in the site using just the iPhone and iPad, it’s been really hard. It’s like having a nagging cold or a broken toe. You just want to be at zero so you can start fighting the normal hassles more comfortably.

Somehow, at least in the moment, a severed limb seems less of an obstacle than a loose end that has no knot in sight.

It’s an odd element of human nature. Or at least mine.

A character on Treme was quoted as having said, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” He was quoted at his memorial after having been shot in the head in a random act of violence.

Still, he was right. Wasn’t he?


BYOB 63011

Blogging via iPad only has been interesting… but I miss my desktop. After a week, it was ready… and then wouldn’t turn on at all. Back to the shop.

The most frustrating thing is that the new and controversial Final Cut X went onto the computer right before it went into the shop for a DVD player repair. I’m looking forward to playing with it. My needs are not those of the professional cutters who are screaming in pain. It feels like it will be a big step forward in intuitive editing for me.

Transformers 3 had a strong night last night, but nit as strong as the last time out. What does it mean? Not much. Non-holiday Tuesday night on a 6-day weekend? Let’s see how it plays out. Paramount doesn’t really need bloggers pretending the opening is already record-setting… bur what else can they do? Fact checking’s not everyone’s thing.

Transformers 2, of course, had one of two $200m+ 6-days in the history of box office. High bar. Even of Tr3 doesn’t get there, I still believe it will be easily the biggest of the trio worldwide.


What Makes Me Think I Am Watching “Critics Gone Wild”

Todd Gilchrist asked, via Twitter, whether I think it’s unfair to go into a movie like Transformers 3 with blinders on – reviewing what the film IS, not what is in the film – since I “question enthusiasm for other movies. Or are all intense reactions suspect?”

Given that I have felt this happening a lot more this summer than any summer before – usually it’s 2 or 3 films all summer that I feel this weird thing happening around – I figure I should explain myself as clearly as I can.

“Unfair” is a funny word. If, for instance, Roger Ebert goes into Tr3 thinking the imagery of the robots fighting is “ugly” and is still unhappy being forced to watch 3D, it seems enormously unlikely that he will look too hard past his feelings going in to find good in the film. In other words, he seems to have gone in needing to be convinced… and certainly, Transformers 3 isn’t transformative enough from the basics of the previous two films – from its basic idea – to overcome this. Unfair? Well, I don’t begrudge any individual their opinion. You know… we all work in this weird space where predetermined biases come with us into the theater, by the nature of the work. Some would say that certain biases and a base of movie knowledge is a functional basis for working as a critic. What those biases are or should be is an issue that continues to divide critics.

For instance, there is a Chris Weitz film coming out called A Better Life. I had 3 people tell me last week that they had an issue with the film because it was too much like The Bicycle Thief, but wasn’t as good and not what they were expecting past the first act. Unfair?

I guess what sets me off is when a film seems to fit into a fairly easy-to-define range of valuations… and then, a wildly aggressive version of the same, positive or negative, emerges. If any work isn’t black and white, it’s criticism. Yet, the gray gets removed… often over issues of theoretical principle, like “I hate comic book crap.”

As I have quoted before, “Give me my fucking premise!” Aside from child porn and uber-violence, I think a professional critic has some responsibility to get over the idea that the film they are reviewing should not exist on principle, whether their issue is genre or budget or sequels. Conversely, don’t give a film a pass or praise it way beyond what seems sane (or likely to stick 6 months later) because you LOVE their premise.

If Super 8 is an homage to Spielberg, great. I get that. We all got that. So how did it stack up against that standard? This is not “I like that movie.” Plenty of people like the movie. As I noted in my gently negative review, there are plenty of things I liked about it. But if we’re reliving Uncle Steve’s genius, does this film deliver on that?

You know, it’s not like we haven’t been here before. Zemeckis, Robbins, Columbus, Silberling, Sonnenfeld, other newcomers, and later work by Dante, Donner, Kasdan, Bay, and lately, Eastwood have all been supported and built via some Spielberg largesse. And their films with him have, for the most part, contained the sentimentalism that is Spielberg’s clearest trademark.

So do the things that JJ Abrams does in Super 8 that add to the Spielberg tone live up to that legacy? We’ve seen Spielberg do kids and misunderstood monsters and aliens and threats to the planet. If we love what Spielberg did with them – 20/20/rose-colored hindsight for some critics – does Abrams’ take deliver as well… visually… but more importantly, emotionally?

I think, as a professional, you have a responsibility to, if you are going to embrace the love of Spielberg in it all, to consider this seriously… not just to throw up your hands and go, “I am sick of all this CG, 3D shit, and I loved that time in film, and it feels great to go back.”

I don’t need you to agree with me, as far as the answer goes. Love the movie subjectively all you like. But let’s get past why you hate summer movies, please.

You know when my head started spinning on Super 8.. when critics and feature writers started making excuses for the gross not being huge… even before it opened. And yes, I have written things like that before. But I write about box office every week. I’m talking about people who wouldn’t know tracking from a dolly track, suddenly opining on the legs to come. It’s not unlike The Social Network, a movie I liked more personally, but was hyped to the heavens by media, not just with positive reviews, but with all kinds of silly speculation about box office that seemed designed to tell readers, “It’s more than it seems… we swear… if you don’t know anyone who went in opening weekend, go anyway, or you will be left out on the next big thing!” And even that… if it was transparent, who cares? But it wasn’t. It was hidden behind the idea of it being journalistically sound. And it never was. The film was a great success, but it wasn’t a societal phenom.

Flip side is a movie like Green Lantern. Was it the least successful of three CG-heavy comic book movies this summer so far? Not for me, but I wouldn’t object to anyome arguing that.

But is it the Worst Comic Book Movie Ever Made?

And even if you HATE it, isn’t there some notion that it looks more like a comic book than anything we’ve seen since Dick Tracy? Could you throw it the smallest bone before you pee on it and try to bury it forever as though it was made to offend you?

It was also one of the many films this summer to be called, repeatedly, “incomprehensible,” another word that gets me buzzing. How dumb does one have to be not to be able to comprehend the fairly simple idea of what Green Lantern is? The Wrong Man gets sucked into the job, gets trained, faces bad guys, fails, finds the courage to become The Right Man. How many times have we seen this?

I do have a theory. Perhaps this is a function of commercial films becoming more narrow in scope and in intended audience.

There have been 15 films released on over 2000 screens this summer. 3 are comic books, 3 are r-rated comedies, 3 are sequels (among 5 overall), 1 is a long-held-from-release niche action film, 2 are for young kids, and 2 are rom-coms (one urban/one chick). That leaves Super 8. No wonder critics have picked it as their one true love.

It’s almost as though it’s time for a new language for films that critics hate or love going in.

3 stars for the film… minus 2.5 stars for the CG and 2 more for being in 3D. A -1.5 star film!

Or review harshly, but hold off on stars when it’s natural hate.

I’d rather that than critics reviewing commercial cinema seeming endlessly either strident or overcompensating. This is, in my opinion, a big reason why criticism has lost influence.

When I read, over and over, that movie is too loud or too visually busy or too incomprehensible when the story is a simple as a fart, I find it crazy-making. To me, it’s an abdication of the job. If you hate the visuals because you looked at them and felt they were artistic failures, fine! But I have read that review from these same writers… and when they hate the film. It seems like detail goes out the window. Conversely, when they go in humming, any flaw is so,show excusable.

I don’t think there is a great conspiracy or that everyone is a hack. I think critics are human. Writing windows are getting shorter. Competition for attention to your work, greater. Genre familiarity often breeds contempt.

I don’t need anyone to confirm by beliefs. But when others disagree strongly, I would like to feel challenged and not just dismissed along with these movies. Strong criticism does that.


Poll du Jour: Super Transformers 48

I’ve been reading some angry, angry reviews of Transformers: Dark Side of The Moon… even one twitter snark by someone who just last week was angry that I dared to wonder why critics were piling on so much on Bad Teacher, this week claiming that everyone who gave Tr3 a “kind” review was just happy that it hadn’t killed us. And I started to wonder if this film was the flip side of Super 8. Is the Abrams/Spielberg a great memory of the bright, fresh lawns of our past and the Bay/Spielberg an opportunity to be angry about those big dumb robots messing up the same lawn. Or as the poll question asks…


Just Saw This…


It just goes to show you, surveys are skewed by the questions as much as the answers.

The above is an ad for awards advertisers from the LA Times.

I would rephrase: What kind of entertainment awards coverage are you looking for?

A. The same old stale stuff, written by angry, jaded employees of a bankrupt corporation who don’t ask challenging questions, but sometimes do trend pieces based on off-the-cuff poorly considered notions someone spit up like a hairball over coffee?

B. Thoughtful, provocative ideas that are not steeped in the need to cover massive overhead by selling millions of dollars in ads to the studios by writers who are not outnumbered by the ad sales team.

Of course, this is similarly absurd. Not everyone at LAT is a jaded hack. And not every web-based journalist is an inexperienced hack.

Of course, the ad at the top of this entry is aimed at Nikki Finke, not really me or other billionaire-less web-based journalists. The subtext is, “You don’t want to wake up one morning with Nikki attacking your movie because someone refused to give her a 2-hour exclusive, sitting next to the ad for your movie… do you?” The inverse is, “We’ll take care of you at LA Times.” Not a great journalistic standard, as no matter how full of crap Nikki may be, “professional” as a code word for “butt kissing” is not what we’re supposed to be in the business of doing.

In the end, journalism about Oscar season is much more opinion than news. For everyone, Features = Free Ads Pretending To Be News. And that’s ok. It’s the game.

The LA Times ad was featured in a piece on Journalists vs Bloggers. So I just want to point out, for the millionth time, that we who don’t have giant institutions signing our checks, have to earn out readership every single day. If Nim Chimpsky wrote for the NYT OP-Ed section, he would instantly have as big a readership as Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, or Chauncey Gardener. The institution has already earned status for you. On the other hand, if what I write doesn’t keep me in the conversation… however wide or narrow those who converse about it may be… I am done professionally. After 15 years online, I have some institutional weight as well. But nothing close to that of a print outlet. So when I read institutional journalists questioning “blogs,” I have the urge to invite them to come on out to the place where you don’t have it all handed to you on a platter. Then tell me how superior you are. Some would thrive and grow… some for good reasons and some for bad. And some would be done.

Journalistic standards are tough for everyone, in whatever media they work. Keep it specific, don’t be defensive, be fair. That’s all I ask.


Review: Transformers 3: Dark Side Of The Moon (spoiler-free)


I wasn’t a fan of Transformers. I hated Transformers 2.

And I really enjoyed Transformers 3.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The film still has the sniggling sense of humor of a 14 year old boy who thinks he’s really smart. In the first two films, these were the moments that distracted from the thin ideas of the screenplays and the limitations of the giant f***ing robots (as Par promoted the first 2 films at ComicCon).

Here, Bay parodies himself by introducing a new character with a virtual Victoria’s Secret ad, bores us with our hero being stuck looking for work, and plays the parent joke a little too hard.

I imagine Bay either snorting as he giggles at these jokes as though he was a child or seriously discussing what a 14-year-old boy would find funny. Either way, it can be embarrassing. Bay should screen the film for Adam Sandler and anything that is too broad for Adam should be cut. And 25% would be cut. Then show it to Albert Brooks and cut a third of the jokes he think should be cut. That would put you at about 50% of the attempted comedy. Then tighten and you are probably just about right.

I did think the world might actually implode if you put The Johns (Malkovich and Turturro) in a scene together with the only goal being to eat more scenery than the Deceptacon snake thing eats Chicago pavement. Sadly, it wasn’t very funny. Malkovich is shot like a Martin Schoeller portrait by way of David La Chappelle, all teeth, eyes, greased hair, and over-tanned skin. That IS funny… but like everything else about the humor in this film, it is played waaaaay too long to sustain a meta joke. Even Julie White suffers from too much screen time this time. Frances McDormand joins Johnny Mac in slumming for dollars. (Alan Tudyk kills.)

This is pretty much the entire bad part of the film. It wastes for over 30 minutes of the running time, so it can be frustrating. But Bay moves between the unfunny attempts at being funny and the action quickly enough to keep it from dragging the enterprise down.

The good news… lots of it… for a Transformer movie

Impactful 3D becomes more of a cameo player as the moves along, but smartly, Bay maximizes it in the first 20 minutes. (It’s a weird summer. Tr3 reflects X4 by attaching itself to a real 1960s event. And Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, which I saw just the night before, also uses a period set-up before the movie, set in “today” starts.) I thought the moon sequence used 3D as well as I have seen it used in any film since Avatar. Maybe even better than Avatar. Bay managed to make mundane images pop in 3D in a way I have never seen. (Set design is a big part of it.)

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is beautiful and competent as the female lead. Shes not an actress, but neither was Megan Fox. And whatever the role was when Fox was still associated with the project, the role as it stands in the movie fits H-W and is unimaginable in Fox’s hands. It’s not hard to come up with the tweaks that would make the girl lead more of a smart-ass, short-shorted tease. But what’s interesting in Huntington-Whiteley is that she has a presence that allows us to believe that every man in the film wants to sex her, but that she is so comfortable with dumb male objectification, she would be emotionally loyal to her man, in spite of his obvious flaws, because s she is confident in her choices. (More than he is.) Fox’s character seemed more of a natural mercenary.

But it’s the shift in the primary idea of the film that makes the greatest impact. This is, primarily,a war film, not an effects film. And while I’m sure the budget was incrementally higher (a 15% incremental growth in budget = over $30 million), it feels as though the technology costs much have dropped exponentially. Basically, it feels, for the first time, like Bay was able to use as much robot footage as he wanted. I’m sure, in real life, he wanted more… but I’m saying the movie doesn’t feel like it ever has to choose not to use a bot when it might fit the story. The bots, good and bad, are now like actors. There is as much literal scenery chewing as actor scenery chewing in a film in which the director seems to ask the actors to get on the scenery, dry hump it, and then gnaw on it until their teeth bleed.

Truth is, the robot stuff has gotten so strong that the overreaches by the actors – especially Shia in action scenes – really stand out. When SLB bounces over cars and then under a car, etc, I disconnected a little. But I was completely ready for the autobots to fulfill the roles that we are used to seeing actors fill in action movie and westerns. There is a line – which I won’t offer here – from Optimus Prime that gives the audience a giddy chill as though it was said by Eastwood or Schwarzenegger or Stallone in years past.

And again, thematically, the stakes here are simplified and amplified. It’s a variation on ID4 and Mars Attacks, basically. Human kind is seriously threatened and must team with technology to save itself. They get the balance of human and bot heroism just about right. (There’s even make up for the racism of Transformers 2, with more black heroics… never screaming “see, we’re not racist,” but well done.)

There is even, on top of a lot more bots, some stuff we really haven’t seen before, as Bay takes on Cameron and Nolan with a building reminiscent of The Poseidon Adventure, Titanic, True Lies, and a touch of Inception.

Yes, there are a million things you can yank out of the fabric of this film to complain about. Why is the entire earth centered in 8 blocks of Chicago? Because it’s a movie. But there is also a great benefit in this seeming simplicity… we know where we are in the 30+ minutes we spend in the space.

If you cut 30 minutes or so of Bay’s darlings – mostly human ones – this would be a much better movie. (You really could cut the entire Malkovich section of the film.) And you can linger on what other directors could have done more with this material. But you know, this is the first time the movie works well enough that I even considered whether Spielberg’s humanity or Nolan’s dryness or Greengrass’ realistic heroes would be better in this bot environment. This is a big step up for the series.

I enjoyed the film in the most big summer boom boom way. I would go again. And I would go to see it in 3D again.

And Transformers 4 could be the best of all. 110 minutes max… classic movie structure… great, seamless effects… 5 good laughs and no swinging for the comedy fences… I would really be looking forward to it.

But for now, we won’t see any better fireworks show this summer. Enjoy it. It’s the Transformers movie that we always wanted them to make.


Monday Monday

You know someone doesn’t want you talking about their news when it lands on the web late Friday or just before a holiday. You know they do want you talking about it when they announce it on Monday morning.

Ron Meyer is now contracted at Universal through 2015. Traditionally, this is the kind of contract that some would assume to be a golden parachute in the making. Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s talk after Battleship.


Bob Pisano is officially leaving MPAA. His name is not a very high profile one in the real world, but many at SAG continue to remember him as the man who delivered SAG to Netflix. Pisano negotiated the 2005 SAG deal that didn’t upgrade the union’s DVD residual which had been originally negotiated under claims that DVD was an “emerging technology” and that the studios couldn’t afford the kind of residuals that had been offered for other media. Pisano was also serving on the Netflix board at the time.

There was a lawsuit, claiming a conflict of interest, which was eventually thrown out of court when a judge found that there was no conflict with the same man negotiating SAG’s DVD residuals from the studios and being a Netflix board member… even though the studios were co-owners of Netflix, having been given 2% of Netflix each in exchange for better deals for DVDs.

Pisano resigned from his role at SAG and quickly took up residence at MPAA, which is an organization by and for the major studios. He also cashed out personally on over $2 million in Netflix stock.

Pisano was supported along the way by the SAG group then led by SAG President Melissa Gilbert, who has always been pro-AFTRA-merger and was active in undermining the last strike, aligned with the current leadership.

The failure of the strike has been exacerbated by the failure to get any significant residuals deal for streaming re-runs, which went from being a meaningless revenue stream during the strike to a significant one almost immediately after the strike. What company made the prices on reruns and streaming spike instantly? Netflix.

Where was Bob Pisano? At MPAA, running things between MPAA CEOs.


How much did Pisano have to do with the timing of Netflix suddenly being willing to pay the majors $100 million a year or more each to stream 6 month old movies and DVD-release-dated TV after crying digital poverty to the unions for 18 months? I doubt we’ll ever know.

Meanwhile, AFTRA has eaten SAG’s TV business almost whole, a merger dominated by AFTRA has become inevitable, and residuals continue to drop, forcing SAG to consider rationing healthcare and pension benefits for members who most need them, as well as raising the bar – as residuals disappear – for newcomers to earn those benefits.

SAG has been gutted and may never recover. With an AFTRA-dominated merged union and the majority of AFTRA membership working in non-rerun/non-residual jobs, the odds of a strike to make SAG whole again is unlikely.

Pisano has truly been a gift to the studios. He really has been their home run hitter.

Which studio will start him on a $4m a year salary as a “consultant?” I would bet that a few are already lined up, just waiting for him to pick.


The GdT produced and co-written horror film Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark scared people at LAFF’s closing night so much that they thought there was a fire drill in the middle of the film!

I am not going to write a formal review of the film. I will just say – and say repeatedly – “See it.” You don’t want to know what it’s about. You should know that it is very Del Toro-esque and involves creepy crawlies and a threat to women and children and even men. When I suggested, after seeing the film, that absolutely no one under 10 should see the film, Pete Hammond replied, “No one under 70 should see the film! And you can quote me on that!” And I have!

If you like or love scary movies, go. And if you can, see it in an ethnic neighborhood. This is a classic, “Don’t open that door!”, “No! Don’t! It’s right around the…” kinda movie. It would have been even more fun at midnight on Saturday instead of on closing night.

Guillermo, intro’ing the film, offered that the film was made to be PG-13, but got an R “for pervasive scariness… I like that.” We did too.

Don’t expect a revolution on film or even much of an evolution (Go to 1974, add a touch of CG, shake… and run!). Just expect a fun fucking time at the movies.

As for the release date (August ), I guess they are looking at the numbers of The FInal Destination and the Halloween reboot and hoping they can hype this one into that range. It’s hard to imagine it opening as well as either, but hey, if Screen Gems can go 20m/30m almost anywhere, I guess Bob Berney can too. FilmDistrict went 13m/53m with Insidious. I hope for the same or better here. This is the kind of film that should be able to build an audience for over a month.


Weekend Estimates by Bad Car Klady


Friday was a tease.

Every film in the Top Ten other than the two new wide releases managed 3x opening. Neither Cars 2 or Bad Teacher came close. Both openings are still excellent. But while neither film had the weight of Thursday midnight screenings hanging on its Friday number, both showed a significant Saturday bump.

But that is nine $30m+ openings in 8 summer weekends.

The most interesting stat I have seen about the weekend was that Teacher’s audience, according to the exit polls, was 2-to-1 female and bigger with over 25s than under. It’ll be interesting to see if Sony shifts campaign strategy and shows more of the kids in the film in the second weekend tv spots.

Looks like X-Men, Pirates, and Panda will all be the weakest films in their franchises domestically.


Friday Estimates by MerKladyS Benz


So Cars 2 is the best Pixar opening day with the exception of Toy Story 3, which bodes well for a $75m-plus opening, which would also be the #2 behind TS3. Of course, we all know that Cars is not the leggiest of the Pixar titles, but even with an overloaded animation year, this suggests that we will finally get a $200m domestic animated movie this year and another smash for Disney in the liscencing department.

Bad Teacher is going to be Cameron Diaz’ biggest opening in the lead by a significant distance. It will beat all of her rom-com openings and end up behind the Charlie’s Angels openings and Green Hornet (which I really didn’t know she was in). It will likely top Knight & Day‘s opening by 50% or so.

In terms of the summer comedies, the question today is whether it will be a Bridesmaids-like date movie success (meaning an upswing on Saturday night) or not. Hard to say. Diaz is the inverse of what is often said about male movie stars… women like her and want to be her and men want to sleep with her. So maybe. Sony hasn’t really exploited the goofiness of Justin Timberlake’s turn in this film, which I would think would get some play with women.

Green Lantern takes a big hit, which probably ends up being mid-to-high 60%s off by the end of the weekend. This is about the traditional level of a rejected effects movie.

Everything else is about average, though Kung Fu Panda 2 took it coming and going, losing a lot of 3D screens and dropping more sharply than usual against Cars2n.

Midnight in Paris dropped out of Len’s Top Ten for the day. The film lost 80+ screens and will drop, as it did last weekend, about 10%. Still, considering the lost screens, a strong result. Look for the film to get an extra marketing push this week and maybe pick up a few more screens in hopes that it will be a true alternative option over the July 4 holiday. Even losing screens, the studio is finding that the film is playing better in some markets that have never been kind to Woody. So they won’t be shy about experimenting.

It’s also worth noting that according to Klady and others who follow world box office aggressively (not BO Mojo), both Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona did over $100m worldwide. Midnight in Paris is expected to surpass them both, perhaps even passing $100 million in international alone.


When Critics Attack

This has been a contentious issue in here…but this is a variation on the theme…

I’m curious. On a movie like Bad Teacher, the review I have read over and over again, starts by noting that the lead of the film is an unlikable character and that no one else is really likable (save Jason Segal)… that the movie is too broad… and that the car washing sequence is really, really irritating and symbolic of what’s wrong with the film.

So far, I have only read reviews by people I respect and admire, including our occasional contributor, Heather Havrilesky… but the theme has been pretty consistent.

Is this observation fair?


BYOB: I’m Not Really Here

I was supposed to be landing on the other side of the world right now. But alas, I am still in Los Angeles. It was so much funnier when Europe was being inconvenienced by volcanic ash clouds. Not so funny when I’m being inonvenienced. Karma cloud.

My computer went in for repair, as I was due to be away… so it’s Hot iPod Blog for the next few days.


Peter Falk Serpentines No More

A man of multiple careers. Movie heavy… comic heavy… Team Cassavetes indie groundbreaker… Columbo.

The last period in which he did any non-Columbo work that really stood out was in the mid-80s, with Wings of Desire, Happy New Year, and The Princess Bride. The Cheap Detective and The In-Laws were in 1978 and 1979.

His Cassavetes run ended with a cameo in Opening Night in 1977, though he was in Big Trouble, an unsuccessful reunion of the In-Laws team. This was also Cassavetes last film behind the camera.

But he will be most remembered for the raincoat and the one last question…


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon